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The Switch Blu-ray Review

The Switch (2010) movie poster The Switch

Theatrical Release: August 20, 2010 / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck / Writers: Allan Loeb (screenplay), Jeffrey Eugenides (short story "Baster")

Cast: Jennifer Aniston (Kassie Larson), Jason Bateman (Wally Mars), Patrick Wilson (Roland N.), Jeff Goldblum (Leonard), Juliette Lewis (Debbie), Thomas Robinson (Sebastian Larson), Caroline Dhavernas (Pauline), Scott Elrod (Declan), Victor Pagan (Knit Hat Guy), Jason Jones (Climbing Wall Guide), Carmen M. Herlihy (Woman on Bus), Kelli Barrett (Roland's Wife Jessica)

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The Switch has an outrageous premise. A guy replaces the seed of the donor his best friend has picked for her artificial insemination with his own semen. That concept, adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides' 1996 New Yorker short story "Baster",
becomes one of the most unlikely starting points ever for a mainstream PG-13 romantic comedy. Though that absurd foundation might be enough for you to write off the film, don't discount it just yet.

New York equities analyst Wally (Jason Bateman) is a neurotic and pessimistic hypochondriac. Aware that she won't be fertile forever, his one-time GF and longtime BFF Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) decides to enter motherhood alone. She begins her search for a sperm donor without even considering Wally. Wally, as you may guess, still has some feelings for her stronger than friendship. He scoffs at her plan, creating a minor rift for them. Nevertheless, she proceeds to choose handsome, charming, married Columbia University professor Roland (Patrick Wilson) to be the father of her baby.

"The Switch" stars Jason Bateman as neurotic, cynical New York equities analyst Wally Mars. Pregnancy plans create a brief, temporary rift between Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) and her best friend.

A party is thrown for the actual act of insemination, which Wally moodily attends and where he finds company in a potent combination of alcohol and an herbal pill. It is in this state that the unthinkable bathroom hijacking occurs not out of malice or jealousy but as an ill-conceived solution to a problem. As our sympathetic protagonist, Wally of course has no recollection of the evening. Life soon returns to normal for him and, none the wiser, Kassie decides to move back to Minnesota to raise her child.

We then jump ahead seven years. The two besties have stayed in touch and neither has found a partner with whom to settle down. Accepting a great job offer, Kassie moves back to New York with her now 6-year-old son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Though somehow unnoticed by his mother, the striking similarities between the picky boy and his real biological father are immediately recognized by Wally, who puts the pieces together with help from his boss/friend (Jeff Goldblum, diverting as always) and realizes what he's done.

The movie has the unenviable task of reconciling that unforgivable transgression with the decent guy we want to find happiness. Kassie starts a romance with the newly-divorced Roland, enabling Wally and Sebastian to spend some quality time together, which both secret father and son greatly enjoy. Not wanting to jeopardize that, The Switch delays its inevitable revelation as long as it can and, as a result, its swift, tidy resolution is not easy to swallow.

"Seed man" Roland (Patrick Wilson) is quick to jump to try to save the day at Sebastian's disappointing rock-climbing birthday party. The reliable Jeff Goldblum lends color as Wally's boss/mentor/confidante Leonard.

After opening with some grim, weighty narration over time-lapse photography of Manhattan bustle, The Switch settles into comedy that both Aniston and Bateman are comfortable with. It's not hilarious, but it's sharp and sharpened by the charismatic leads, who display nice friend chemistry. Getting to the 30-minute mark and the titular substitution on which the film hedges is a little rocky but manageable.
After that, the film shifts gears, laying aside its comic ambitions for Kramer vs. Kramer-style wit.

Though the more commercially accomplished Aniston claims top billing, this is Bateman's movie and he really sells his jaded protagonist tactfully. Both the actor and the film tread lightly to establish Wally as a competent, sensitive father figure. The romantic potential of Wally and Kassie takes a backseat and even seems destined to be written off as screenwriter Allan Loeb (Things We Lost in the Fire) refuses to take the easy way out and make Roland an objectionable suitor.

In their follow-up to the delightful Blades of Glory, directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck put up a respectable fight against their challenging premise, avoiding any temptation to sustain a ludicrous atmosphere where such a life-changing impulse could make sense. They adhere to some romcom convention, most dissatisfyingly in the end, but often offer something smarter and more introspective. It's too bad that the film's unsettling selling point will blind many to the numerous nice moments created around it.

While it looked like a film that could be the work of any major studio, The Switch actually has the distinction of being the final release of Miramax Films as it existed at The Walt Disney Company. Instead of being included as part of the sale to investment group Filmyard Holdings, two subsequent Miramax productions (December's The Tempest and this year's unexpectedly profitable Gnomeo & Juliet) were shifted over to Disney's Touchstone Pictures division . In addition to being the last, The Switch also gets to be the first, the first Miramax film distributed on home video by Lionsgate, the bigger of the two studios assigned to handle the indie-heavy 800-title Miramax library in the US. It debuts on DVD and Blu-ray today and we look at the latter here.

The Switch Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
Blu-ray: DTS-HD 5.1 MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($29.95 SRP)
and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Switch looks incredible in the Blu-ray's 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. Admittedly, most modern movies leave little to be desired in either standard or high definition and this isn't a film making any technical award shortlists. Still, I am wholeheartedly impressed by the picture's flawless sharpness and clarity here. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio is also a winner. Obviously, there aren't gunshots, car crashes, and explosions, but the ambient noises of Manhattan and Wally's workplace are nicely realized, plus the dialogue remains crisp, natural, and easy to hear. I can't imagine giving this presentation any less than a perfect score, if I were to give it a score, that is.

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck share their thoughts to the featurette "The Switch Conceived" from the same place where they introduce the deleted scenes. No, this isn't a sequel to "Derailed", but a deleted scene in which Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) assesses her fellow subway riders as potential sperm donors.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Three standard bonus features are included here, and they're the exact same ones Disney announced and retracted for the film's originally scheduled Christmastime release.

First up, "The Switch Conceived" (14:37) is a routine making-of featurette comprised of cast & crew interview remarks
Watch a clip from the featurette "The Switch Conceived":
and behind-the-scenes photos and footage. In addition to passing around praise and describing the project's genesis, the piece devotes time to discussing practical shooting on real New York locations.

Next comes the supplemental centerpiece, a collection of ten deleted/alternate scenes that run a staggering 25 minutes and 7 seconds with their explanatory video introductions from directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Included in this bunch are a couple of complementary bits in which Wally and Kassie assess their fellow subway rides with voiceover, an alternate version of the central scene in which the act is more deliberate, and a less satisfying and insignificantly varied alternate ending. None of it is good enough to miss, but Gordon and Speck's shared rationale for the cuts (and for preserving them here) is appreciated.

The bloopers reel opens with Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, and background artists cracking up in an outtake of a cut elevator scene. Kassie's friend Debbie (Juliette Lewis) makes an appearance on

Finally, we get an ordinary reel of bloopers (3:45), which contains a few alternate improvisations but more of the usual crack-ups and fumbles.

The concurrent DVD drops the bloopers, the alternate ending and some of the deleted scenes, probably not for space considerations but to add exclusive value to the premium Blu-ray.

"Also from Lionsgate" replays the same three trailers with which the Blu-ray opens, for The Lincoln Lawyer, From Prada to Nada, and Killers.

The Blu-ray's menu cycles through film stills among insemination supplies and pregnancy party decor. The slideshow section is replaced by the film when choosing the pop-up menu during playback.

The slim Blu-ray case is topped by a cardboard slipcover boasting two of the brightest orange spines you've ever seen. An insert promotes other Lionsgate Blu-rays and defends the mastering of the disc.

More than the advertised romance, "The Switch" invests in the relationship between father (Jason Bateman) and son (Thomas Robinson), seen here combatting a case of lice with a fine tooth comb.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If you can get past the unfortunate premise and accept that this is not the all-out comedy advertised, you may enjoy The Switch to the moderate degree that I did. This movie is not what it looks like (another Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy) and not the parade of wackiness that premise suggests. Instead, it's a reasonably thoughtful and good-natured flick that uses another fine Jason Bateman performance to nearly conquer the drawbacks of the storyline and genre.

The presentation on Lionsgate's first Miramax release is dazzling. The bonus features aren't bad either (though as always, it's unfortunate that some are needlessly withheld from the DVD). While it does have some pronounced flaws, The Switch does enough right to recommend giving it a look.

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Related Reviews:
Starring Jason Bateman: Juno Extract Hancock Silver Spoons: The Complete First Season
Starring Jennifer Aniston: The Bounty Hunter He's Just Not That Into You Marley & Me
Featuring Patrick Wilson & Jeff Goldblum: Morning Glory | Featuring Juliette Lewis: Due Date
The Back-up Plan The Kids Are All Right Life As We Know It Martian Child Knocked Up Labor Pains
Going the Distance Run Fatboy Run The Middle: Season 1 Date Night Dinner for Schmucks
Directed by Josh Gordon & Will Speck: Blades of Glory | Written by Allan Loeb: 21 Things We Lost in the Fire
New: Who Do You Think You Are?: Season 1 The Fighter 127 Hours You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

The Switch Songs List: Dan Hartman - "Instant Replay", The Bar-Kays - "Freakshow on the Dance Floor", Nu Shooz - "I Can't Wait", N-I-Gel featuring Phat Al & Lou Wop - "Lounge with Stress", Sunrider - "The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind) (Pop Radio Mix)", Jamiroquai - "Little L", Justin Meldal-Johnsen - "Prioritize", The Quantic Soul Orchestra - "Pushin' On (Feat. Alice Russell)", Fat Larry's Band - "Boogie Town", Donna De Lory - "Papa Don't Preach", Fat Larry's Band - "Here Comes the Sun", Mojave 3 - "Bluebird of Happiness (Ulrich Schnauss Short Version)", Other Viewz - "Summer Night", Lavender Diamond - "Open Your Heart", Justement - "Sick of Being Love Today", Jaymay - "Sea Green, See Blue", Mick McMains - "I Walk Alone", Assassinz - "Party People", Albert King - "More Bad Luck", Eels - "All the Beautiful Things", Sonny Rollins - "Paul's Pal", Eels - "Numbered Days", Jeff Goldblum - "Happy Birthday to You", Bibio - "Lovers' Carvings"

The Switch: Music from the Motion Picture:
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Reviewed March 15, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Miramax Films, Mandate Pictures, and 2011 Lionsgate. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.